Embrace the Finnish crayfish party-rapujuhlat
The end of summer is usually the time to have a crayfish party called Rapujuhlat. Rapu means crab, and juhlat means party. This is a fun-to-enjoy event with friends and families. You might be invited to join a crayfish party as a guest, or you are hosting your very own crayfish party.
When attending a party as a guest, it is always a good idea to ask the host what you can bring. Usually, it is a potluck-style party where each guest brings a dish to share. As a courtesy, it is recommended to bring a bottle of wine. If you have any food allergies or dietary restrictions, it is essential to inform the host in advance to avoid any inconvenience. Sometimes, crayfish may be served as an appetizer, but the main dish can be something else that does not involve creatures from the sea. Meat, soups, or other Finnish festive delicacies might be offered, as well as some dessert.
Children at the party
Children are welcome to join the party and learn about the traditions while enjoying the special event with relatives and friends. Respecting boundaries in crayfish parties is essential, and excessive drinking is no longer tolerated, especially in parties involving children. Additionally, non-alcoholic beverages are included as part of the party offerings.
Songs and Shots
In Finland, singing songs and taking shots are expected, so be prepared to learn some Finnish songs. As a foreigner, keeping up with the Finnish drinking and sauna culture can be challenging, especially if you are not Scandinavian. However, Finns respect boundaries, so politely declining their offers is always an option.
If you do want to say something that most finns will understand, say this: "hölökyn kölökyn" which loosely translates as down the hatch. It is something you say before drinking. If this is also too hard, then "kippis" will do.
Rituals of the Crayfish Party
The rituals of each host might differ, which makes experiencing them fun. Usually, a candle is lit before guests can sit at the table. Sometimes, festivities begin when the host gives one of the guests a crayfish. The host may also indicate how many crayfish are reserved for each individual. For hygiene and civility, it is important not to touch the crayfish unless it is being consumed. Instead, use your eyes to select and eat the crayfish you chose.
Red and White decorations
Traditionally, crayfish parties are decorated with white and red colors along with crayfish illustrations, but you are free to decorate in your own way. To create a pleasant atmosphere and eliminate the seafood smell, decorate the table with candles, tablecloths, or other protective coverings to help conceal the messiness of peeling crayfish shells. Additionally, provide a bowl for each guest to wash their hands, small crayfish knives to make peeling more manageable, and plenty of napkins.
Crayfish eating like a Finn
Most Finns buy frozen crayfish because they are usually cheaper than fresh and easier to boil. They are eaten cold. River crayfish are allowed to season in the cold for 24 hours and spotted crayfish for 8–12 hours. Frozen crayfish can be cooked in the same broth as live crayfish. The traditional way to prepare the crayfish is by boiling. If you do it differently in your culture. Inform the Finnish and Nordic guests in advance.
Toast bread is usually served as a side dish with crayfish. It is topped with a cream cheese spreading, and Finns usually put the peeled crayfish on top of the toasted bread.
As an Asian, I love to eat crayfish with a spicy and salty taste, so I always have a siracha and fish sauce with me.
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The K-market food list is in the Finnish language. So here is a vocabulary to help you get started.
Leipä = bread
Paahtoleipä = toast bread
Tuorejuusto = cream cheese
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